ANALYSIS: With cable steadily gaining on broadcast, a cable show rising to the top of the ratings charts was just a matter of time. But who would’ve predicted just a coupe of years ago that it won’t be a series on established basic cable networks like TNT, TBS, USA Network or FX, which have been nipping at broadcasters’ heels, to do it but a drama on the once-obscure AMC? Yes, the highest-rated non-sports telecast among adults 18-49 on all of television this fall was the Season 3 premiere of AMC’s zombie drama The Walking Dead, which drew 7.3 million 18-49 viewers in Live+Same Day, with no carriage on major satcaster Dish Network no less.
Speaking of fall surprises, who would’ve predicted even a couple of months ago that NBC would leapfrog from fourth to first place this fall to dominate competitors among adults 18-49 by winning each of the first four weeks of the season for the first time in 10 years? That’s since fall 2002, when NBC’s Thursday lineup was anchored by Friends, Will & Grace and ER. NBC has now won seven weeks in a row in 18-49. The rise of NBC to the top of the broadcast standings and cable dramas’ ratings breakthrough highlight the fall season so far.